Shishak, King of Egypt -- By: Bryant G. Wood

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 09:1 (Winter 1996)
Article: Shishak, King of Egypt
Author: Bryant G. Wood

Shishak, King of Egypt

Bryant G. Wood

The name of David, Israel’s second king, ca. 1010–970 BC, appears in two ninth century BC texts, the Tel Dan Inscription and the Moabite Stone. Since these texts were recently discussed in the pages of Bible and Spade (Autumn 1993, pp. 119–121, and Summer 1995, pp. 91–92), we shall pass on to Shishak, the first Egyptian king to be mentioned by name in the Bible and the first foreign king in the Bible for whom we have extra-Biblical evidence.

Prior to the tenth century BC, it was customary for the kings of Egypt to be referred to simply as “Pharaoh.” After the tenth century, however, a proper name was included with the title (Bible and Spade, Autumn 1993, p. 98). This practice was followed in the Bible as well. The first pharaoh to be identified with a personal name is Shishak, who ruled during the time of Solomon and his son Rehoboam. We first meet Shishak in 1 Kings 11:40. Because of Solomon’s idolatry, God decreed through the prophet Ahijah that He was going to take ten tribes from Solomon and give them to Jeroboam, an official in Solomon’s court (1 Kgs 11:26–39). As a result, Solomon sought to kill Jeroboam. Jeroboam fled to Egypt where Shishak gave him refuge (1 Kgs 11:40).

After Solomon’s death, Jeroboam returned and became leader of the breakaway Northern Kingdom, while Rehoboam ruled over the Southern Kingdom of Judah (1 Kgs 12:1–17). Shortly thereafter, Shishak came with his army and invaded Judah and Israel. The Biblical record is brief:

Shishak’s triumphal relief at the Temple of Amun in Karnak, Egypt. The god Amun on the left leads captive Israelite cities while Shishak on the right (restored) smites his enemies, no doubt Israelites.

In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. He carried off the treasures of the Temple of the Lord and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made (1 Kgs 14:25–26).

The Chronicler expands on this by recording:

With 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen and the innumerable troops of Libyans, Sukkites and Cushites that came with him from Egypt, he [Shishak] captured the fortified cities of Judah and came as far as Jerusalem (2 Chr 12:3–4)1.

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